“Some of our songs will outlive us. I will pass away and the songs will still be played.” – Ray Phiri
South Africa has lost another musical giant – Raymond Chikapa Phiri. Born in Mpumalanga, the Stimela star was known for his enchanting tunes; he was a South African jazz, mbaqanga and fusion genius. A gifted guitarist, he started out as a founding member of The Cannibals in the 70s and later formed the much-lauded band Stimela. The band went on to produce gold and platinum-selling albums like Fire, Passion and Ecstasy, Look, Listen and Decide, and Whispers in the Deep. Popular songs from Ray and his group Stimela include Unfinished Story, Phinda Mzala and Zwakala. His songs were popular anthems in the fight against apartheid. Songs such as Whispers in the Deep and Singajindi Majita were banned during those days. His music encouraged people to keep fighting for justice in a time that was dark. His music provided a soundtrack for the fight for freedom.
Together with Stimela, Ray revolutionised the sound of the township. He has won many accolades that bear testimony to his majestic artistry and musical prowess.
Ray will leave an indelible mark on the hearts of many South Africans who will remember him for his distinct sound and incredible stage presence.
Ray passed away at the age of 70 after battling lung cancer.
Rest in peace ntate Phiri, your music will live on for generations to come.